On December 1st I got up early and drove over to ASELSI at 5:45 a.m. It was the big Christmas celebration and the line of guests had been growing since people started camping outside the ASELSI gates at 5:30 p.m. the night before. These Guatemalans really look forward to a party!
With nearly 800 families invited, we were expecting quite the crowd.
I had to park well away from the actual campus because of the crowd that wound it’s way nearly a quarter of a mile down the road. In the pre-dawn twilight smoke was filtering through the trees from the pine needle fires people had started on the road to help keep warm from the chilly night air.
I could hear the clicks and glottal sounds of the K’iche language as they gave the morning greeting of “skerik.” The closest I could get was a friendly Spanish “buenos dias,” but they didn’t seem to mind. I think they were glad to see that morning was finally arriving. For many of them they spent much of the night getting their place in line.
Some of the team members from Gateway Church in Texas were already out walking the line welcoming the people as I set up video equipment to capture the moment so we could share this event with people back in the states. At times the clouds of smoke choked my throat as well as my view, but slowly the twilight gave way to an overcast morning light.
At 6:30 the ASELSI team arrived and finalized preparations to have everything ready for people to hear the Gospel during this Christmas Celebration.
By about 8 a.m. the line was moving as each family checked in and made their way to the waiting area that we normally use for a dusty and hard dirt soccer field on the back side of the campus.
At 8:30 the seats in the open auditorium were filled with the first of four groups as hundreds of children, accompanied by their parents, older siblings, aunts and uncles watched a clown on the stage with expectation.
Lively music, multimedia, fireworks, dramas, puppets and more drew the attention of the crowd to the main event…the presentation of the Gospel and an explaination of why Jesus came as a little baby and died on the cross so we can have relationship with God. (Click to watch a video of the ASELSI Christmas.) After the presentation, many people met with ASELSI Bible school students who explained the Gospel and prayed with them. The final count said 34 people gave their hearts to Christ or recommitted their lives that day and many others asked for prayer for other needs they had in their lives! An estimated 3072 people attended the event!
Missionary Jorge Rojas (See the video below) was helping in the prayer area and shared the story of a woman who came with her three daughters ages 9, 7 and 5. She said she wasn’t sure what to do. She explained that her daughters are Christians and she wanted to become a Christian herself, but her husband is Catholic.
“I want to accept Jesus,” she said. “But if I accept Jesus I will have problems with my husband.”
Jorge wisely suggested they pray about it together and let the Holy Spirit show them what to do.
Before their prayer was even finished, the mother exclaimed, “I want to accept Jesus! I want to accept Jesus!”
She accepted Jesus right then and she said she wanted to learn more. She wanted a Bible.
Jorge, who had been speaking through a Spanish-K’iche translator, asked if she could read Spanish (there currently isn’t a translation of the Bible in the Chichicastenango version of the K’iche language). She could not, but God provided an alternative.
Immediately one of the daughters who can speak and read Spanish said, she would read to her mother.
When Jorge handed them a Bible, the little girl promised to read from the Bible every day so her mother could grow in her new relationship with Christ.
Please pray for this woman and her children and especially that her example will help her husband come to know Christ too.
Before the people left the campus each child received a gift bag of age-appropriate toys, school supplies and other items. Each family received a bag of rice, beans and other food staples to help feed their families.
All those 34 who made decisions for Christ in the prayer area gave their contact info so local pastors from their cantones or towns can follow up with them and help them grow in their faith. Please pray that they will connect with a local Bible-believing church and that their entire families will become followers of Christ!
This is the 13th year that ASELSI (the ministry we work with here) has held a Christmas celebration for the children who come to the health programs here. What started off as 200 people coming to the celebration has grown to over 3,000 with hundreds of families getting to hear the Gospel, receive prayer, and receive a gift of some staple foods and a small gift bag for their children.
Please continue to pray for the ongoing followup and outreach to these families!
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